The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

A Letter of Protest

From a protest held at Hillsborough during Blair and Ahern's recent meeting there, 12 Feb. 2003
Orlaith Dillon,
Spokesperson for Relatives of Republican Prisoners

To the Prime Minister Tony Blair, and An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern,

We are here today to protest once again at the conditions under which Republican prisoners are currently held in Maghaberry Jail. We have written to the Northern Ireland Office and have held meetings on the issue with a number of elected representatives and interested individuals in the field of human rights. We continue to be disappointed that the main issues raised have not been adressed and that the Northern Ireland Prison Service remains committed to a regime which places prisoners at risk and also refuses to meet with the families concerned.

We understand that as part of the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, the issue of human rights is allegedly high on Britain's agenda for the future of the North of Ireland. We are very pleased that it is so and would ask that as part of this discussion the policy of forced integration in Maghaberry Jail be addressed. This policy directly places the lives of Republican prisoners in danger and prevents them from being able to live their prison lives in safety and within the cultural and social milieu that is their fundamental human right. Recent statistics confirm that the majority of people in the North choose to live in areas predominantly drawn from one community or the other, and the NIPS policy is in direct contrast to this fact. The ending of the recent Loyalist feud has increased the tension within the prison and the risk to our beloved ones without any recongition of this from the NIPS.

We are also angry that despite numerous complaints from those visiting the prison, the use of the sniffer dog is degrading and dangerous particularly for children. It is also completely unecessary, as the NIPS's own statistics confirm, no drugs at all have been found on Republican prisoners or their visitors. This is clearly a policy of intimidation and degradation of families and friends, which is primarily used against women and children and as such infringes their right to family life and contact with their loved ones.

We hope that you will address the above issues urgently and would appreciate an early response. We would point out that the treatment of prisoners in a civilised society is an important indicator of the real level of your commitment to basic human and civil rights. We are aware that you both could solve these issues immediately if you wished and we hope that will indeed be your response.











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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

14 February 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Anti War March Tomorrow
Davy Carlin


A Tale of Two Writers
Anthony McIntyre


Phil Berrigan is Dead
Larry Kirwan


8 Mile Worth the Trip
Mick Hall


A Letter of Protest
Orlaith Dillon


London Arrests Update


9 February 2003


Orange Terror in America
Karen Lyden Cox


Street Traders
Anthony McIntyre


West Belfast: Memories of a childhood voyage of conflict
Davy Carlin


Planned Nationhood
Brian Mór


Breaking the Connection With England

Mary Ward


When I hear the word "gun", I reach for my culture

Jimmy Sands


Where Are The Incubators?
Paul de Rooij




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